The birth of a baby can bring joy and excitement, but it can also lead to unexpected feelings of depression.

Postpartum Depression (PPD) affects up to 16% of Canadian women and can result in chronic depression, child emotional and behavioural disorders, and suicide. Unfortunately, there is still a lack of understanding as to the causes of PPD, including why some women are affected and others aren’t.

What is Postpartum Depression?

Postpartum Depression (PPD) also called Postnatal Depression is a type of mood disorder/depression associated with childbirth. Postpartum depression may start any time up to a year after the birth of a child. PPD can also happen after miscarriage and stillbirth.

What are the signs/symptoms of postpartum depression?

  • Feeling sad, worthless, hopeless, overwhelmed, guilty, irritable, angry, or anxious a lot of the time
  • Feeling resentful towards your partner, baby, or friends who don’t have babies
  • Emptiness and numbness, as if you are just going through the motions feeling nothing
  • Feeling disconnected
  • Withdrawing from others
  • Losing interest in things you used to enjoy
  • Losing focus easily and having difficulties with memory
  • Change in appetite or sleep
  • Not enjoying your baby and feeling like you are a bad parent
  • Having scary thoughts of harming yourself or the baby
  • Having trouble caring for your baby and bonding with your baby
  • Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide
  • Excessive fatigue

If you are experiencing symptoms of high mood and racing thoughts (mania), depression, severe confusion, loss of inhibition, paranoia, hallucinations and delusions please go to your local emergency department immediately as you may be experiencing Postpartum Psychosis where medication and hospitalization is required.

What causes Postpartum Depression?

Although there is no single cause as to what causes postpartum depression, there are factors that can trigger it such as:

  • A family history of depression
  • Personal history of depression
  • Sleep deprivation
  • Physical changes in the body/changes in hormones
  • Age at the time of pregnancy (the younger you are, the higher the risk)
  • Ambivalence about the pregnancy
  • Lack of social support
  • Marital conflict
  • Stress
  • Complications with child birth

Do or can men experience postpartum depression?

Yes, PPD can affect men. They will show some of the same signs and symptoms, although it’s more commonly reported by mothers. PPD can affect any new parents, including parents who adopt.

When is it time to seek help?

Postpartum depression is different than the “baby blues” which can be experienced shortly after the birth of a child and only lasts temporarily about 1-2 weeks. “Baby blues” symptoms include; mood swings, crying, sadness, and feeling overwhelmed. If it feels like the baby blues are lasting longer than 2 weeks and your symptoms are becoming more intense, please see your doctor or other health care provider as soon as possible.

How will I be treated for PPD?

Treatment options may include:

The overall success rate for treating postpartum depression is very high, at 80%, so please contact your doctor or other health care provider as soon as you experience symptoms. There is hope!

 

Blog post by Vanessa Amundson, Volunteer.